It would be an understatement to state that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) needed the Russian Air Force these past few days in the Hama Governorate’s eastern countryside, as they lost several checkpoints and military installations along the strategic Khanasser-Ithriya Highway that leads to the Aleppo Governorate.
On Tuesday morning, the Russian Air Force reappeared for the first time in 72 hours, striking ISIS’ defenses with remarkable precision repeatedly, while the Syrian Arab Army’s 66th Brigade from the 11th Tank Division and the National Defense Forces from Al-Salamiyah attempted to advance their positions along the Khanasser-Ithriyah Highway.
The Russian Air Force’s presence proved imperative to the Syrian Arab Army’s success on Tuesday, as they were able to clear the Raqqa-Salamiyah Highway that is perpendicular to the Khanasser-Ithriyah Highway after intense clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS).
In conjunction with their success along the Raqqa-Salamiyah Highway, the Syrian Arab Army and National Defense Forces pushed south of Sheikh Hilal village in order to buffer-zone to the south of the aforementioned highway.
The Khanasser-Ithriyah Highway is still closed due to ISIS’ presence at the checkpoints located north of Ithriyah; however, the Syrian Arab Army and the Palestinian pro-government militia “Liwaa Al-Quds” (Jerusalem Brigades) are working to recapture these sites from the terrorist group.
ISIS has done a good job to slow down the Syrian Armed Forces by placing several IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) along the Khanasser-Ithriyah Highway; this has required SAA sappers to carefully scope the roadway out.